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April 28, 2013

EXTENSION NEWS: Children and play


Early school ages – ages 4 to 6

Children in preschool and early elementary grades continue to use fantasy play. They also begin to show interest in group play. Group play is more structured and is based more on reality that fantasy.

Group play usually involves a few rules. The rules allow the child to begin developing independence yet cooperation with partners. Often early school-age games allow children to change roles frequently so they begin to experience many perspectives.

This less-structured group play provides a transition between fantasy play and more structured team supports which begin in elementary grades.

Examples of group play games include hide and seek, red rover, and ring around the rosy.


Learning to play with children requires adults to have a willingness to think and act like a child. Often as adults we get involved with work, family and persona responsibility and forget the spontaneity of child hood.

Allow yourself to be creative and get dirty. Often the child will take the lead and assign the adult a role to play.

Many resource books are available on play. Look for books that provide hands on activities as well as theory based information. Sources include libraries, teacher supplies stores, garage sales, child care providers and extension offices.

Kathy Smith is a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent for Parker County. Contact her at (817) 598-6168 or

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